When is the ESTA confirmation received?

So you are planning to travel to the United States soon, for a visit either as a tourist or for business reasons and you know your stay there will be less than 90 days. You have therefore decided to benefit from the Visa Waiver Program by submitting an online electronic application for your ESTA authorisation. Once your form has been completed and submitted you will not immediately receive a response from the American authorities, you will need to wait for your ESTA confirmation. So, how long does it take and when will you receive this confirmation? This is what we will cover here in detail.  

New ESTA Application

Our partner’s website is not affiliated to the American Government. You may complete the procedure on the official website without supplementary costs but will not benefit from our verification and assistance services.

What is the waiting period for obtaining the ESTA authorisation confirmation?

Given that you will have to wait for a certain time before obtaining your ESTA confirmation, it is strongly advised that you plan accordingly and not wait until just before your departure. In fact, each ESTA application is subject to an in-depth analysis from the American Immigration Authorities and your wait could extend to a few days before you receive an email confirmation regarding your ESTA application.

This delay generally varies between 48 to 72 hours during working days. It is actually only when you receive a confirmation by email that you will know that you are really authorised to travel to the United States. This is why it is important to submit your ESTA application one or two weeks in advance to be sure you can leave on D (for departure) day.

You may however benefit from this wait to verify the information that you supplied when you completed the online ESTA application form. In fact, one of the main reasons for a refusal on the part of the American authorities concerns erroneous information on the initial application. Although certain information can be modified after making the initial application, this is not the case for all data.


What are the different statuses when your ESTA application is processed?

Once your ESTA application form has been submitted to the authorities, you will receive a reply by email within the following two or three days. However this reply will not automatically be an acceptance. In fact, here are the three responses that you could receive:

  • Authorization pending: This means that your application is still being analysed by the American authorities. In this case you should be patient for a few days more as it can take up to 72 hours before you receive a final official decision.
  • Authorization granted: Congratulations! You have obtained the authorisation to travel to the United States. Once accepted, your ESTA authorisation is valid for numerous visits during the two year period of validity.
  • Travel not authorised: Unfortunately if you receive a refusal from the American authorities this means that you will not be able to finalise your trip. However, under certain conditions you can apply for a visa, but only if the reason for refusal permits a visa application.


Is it possible to receive your ESTA directly by post?

As we explained earlier, the ESTA authorisation application procedure is completed exclusively online and this continues to the confirmation of this authorisation which is sent to you by email.

However some people are not really comfortable with new technology and wish to obtain a physical copy of their application and thereby receive their ESTA authorisation by post. The majority of ESTA service providers do not provide this service and simply indicate that you can print out a copy of your ESTA email notification. However, certain more reputable service providers do offer this possibility as a supplementary service. This is the case with our partner that offers you the option of receiving your ESTA authorisation by post. You therefore have the opportunity of obtaining a paper travel authorisation document.

Although this paper document has no legal value it can however still be advantageous to obtain and keep safely for various reasons including the following:

  • Firstly, if you have lost access to your emails or, for one reason or another, you have not received your ESTA notification email then you will be relieved to know that your travel plans can continue unimpeded when you receive the paper copy of your authorisation at your home address by post.
  • The fact of receiving your digital travel authorisation by post also enables you to keep a physical copy of your application. The document actually bears the application reference number which will be useful to you later on if you wish to make minor modifications to your ESTA when possible. But that is not all! The document also states the official issue date of your ESTA. Therefore, if you wish to make several visits to the USA and benefit from the two year validity period of your ESTA you can check anytime if it is still valid and reapply online when it approaches its expiry date.
  • Finally, by precaution, certain people like to carry a copy of their ESTA authorisation with them when they travel even though this is automatically digitally linked to their passport.

To conclude, and even if this is not at all necessary or obligatory, the fact of receiving a paper copy of your ESTA authorisation by post is definitely an advantage that it would be a shame to do without. Apply for your authorisation using a service provider that offers this function such as the independent website that we have carefully chosen for you. To do so simply click on the link that can be seen on our website or at the end of this article.


Is it possible to reapply for an ESTA if you receive a refusal notification?

As we explained earlier, the email that you receive in less than 72 hours after your online ESTA application will specify the status of your application. Generally it will either notify the acceptance or refusal of your ESTA. If it is a notification of refusal then you will certainly speculate if it is possible to reapply for a travel authorisation following a refusal.

To be honest, before recommencing the ESTA application procedure online you should try to find out the reasons for the refusal. In certain cases the fact of simply reapplying can enable you to obtain this particular document, but in other cases repeating this procedure is pointless as you will simply obtain a new refusal.

As a general rule, it is judicious to reapply for an ESTA following a refusal notification only if you believe the refusal was due to an error made when completing the application form. It is possible that you ticked a wrong box or made a mistake when entering your passport number or other important information. If you reapply for your authorisation due to this reason then it is entirely possible that you will finally obtain your travel authorisation to visit the United States. Important note! Before reapplying online you will need to wait for 10 days following the refusal notification. If you reapply before this time period has passed then your application will be invalid and therefore will not be processed. 

If you are sure that you replied correctly to the questions on the ESTA online questionnaire application form and you have received a refusal notification regarding your travel authorisation application and your situation has not changed in the meantime then it is pointless to reapply online. In fact, your new application will certainly also be refused and you will have wasted your time and money. There again, you need to try and establish the reasons for the refusal which are unfortunately not stated on the refusal notification response. In certain particular cases such as an incompatibility regarding the length of the visit, the reason for your visit or your country of residence relating to the ESTA programme then you may have the possibility of proceeding otherwise in your efforts to obtain a travel authorisation for the United States by applying for a visa. But there again, it is not certain that you will obtain it as this depends solely upon the decision of the American authorities responsible for studying your application.

To conclude it is important to watch for the arrival of your ESTA response before launching into preparations for your visit to the United States. Only the ESTA acceptance by the American authorities will enable you to board your flight destined for this country when presenting your passport at the airport. In the case of a refusal or the non-receipt of this confirmation it is possible that you will simply not be able to board your flight and your visit will have to be cancelled. We should note here that the travel companies and airlines will not refund any travel related payments made if you have not obtained your ESTA.

New ESTA Application